Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Break

Today was our last day before the holiday break. We've spent today debugging Internet Explorer errors, and have made progress. The registration page forms no longer moves when the user hits tab. Internet Explorer still has a lot of problems though, especially with anything requiring cookies such as logging in. These pages work in Firefox and Google Chrome, a good alternative to Internet Explorer until we get that working.

We hope to have the website supporting multiple zones for a user. This allows a user to, for example, take readings from different areas around their yard. The Perl team created a script today that can fetch all of the zones that a user has. Once Ajax is implemented, users will be able to choose which zone they want to edit or base search results off of.

In other news, we were looking at a Google Analytics page for our site to see where our viewers are from. We have views in 48 states, and quite a few throughout Europe and the rest of the Americas. Oddly enough, we don't have any views from North Dakota or Mississippi, so tell your friends from those states and get us some views!

Future updates will include information about a homemade interactive whiteboard. Tom will be telling everyone about that at some future date, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Digital Visualization Theater at Notre Dame

This weekend, I was fortunate enough to fly to South Bend, Indiana and visit the University of Notre Dame. Back in October, former InvenTeam member Jeff Pawlick came up with a 'design challenge' for our Engineering Design and Development class. The task was to create a 3-D model on AutoDesk Inventor that could be used for educational purposes in the new planetarium-like theater at Notre Dame.

I decided to demonstrate how speakers work. After building each component of the speaker, I rendered a video in Inventor Studio to help show how the parts interact. Jeff asked me to come to the campus and watch him present the models to his class.

The theater was really neat - reclining chairs let viewers relax while the controller manipulates the screen. Sitting there, one feels like they are "flying" into and around the objects. It was a great experience to see some of the possibilities of techonolgy in action. I also was able to attend a freshman engineering lecture, which was interesting as well.

Here is the video I submitted:

Upcoming Presentations

We plan to be using AJAX in the site soon. The implications of this programming language are very exciting. AJAX allows for behind the scenes communication with databases and servers. This gives users the feel of using software as opposed to being online. The page won't have to reload or redirect for changes to occur, they can happen right away.

In other news, we are preparing for presentations in mid-January. Each team will be presenting on what they have learned and done in getting the website to work to a board of engineers. Andrea Mann from Mann Wireless, who is our gracious sponsor, will be attending this presentation.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Logged In

We are currently backing up our server, so I'm taking this opportunity to update everyone on what we're doing. The 'My Garden Consultant' page is being phased out and combined with the home page. When logged in users go back to the home page, they will see the functions currently contained in the My Garden Consultant page. This will help reduce redundancy in the site. It will also keep logged in users in parts of the site relevant to them.

As for our future plans, the button images will be changed to image maps on the control panel that change color when moused-over. This is something that we have planned for the near future. Re-designing our data entry page and plant matching functions are also goals for the coming weeks.

More updates next week!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Device Server Communication!

Recently our team has been hard at work redesigning our communication protocol for device-server communication. This area is being led by Dennis Florence. Today we got our SensorDAQ successfully talking to our website. With the new communication protocol, users can have dynamic sensor configurations: a user can have any array of sensors, and the program will adapt to their configuration. Along with our recent success in our persistent session data system, this new protocol provides for an exciting new momentum for the team. More updates will come soon!

Engineering Talks and Ajax

Today the EDD class was visited by a former SSHS and Project Lead the Way graduate David Mendez. David is now attending the Naval Academy Annapolis and is his second year. He talked to us about the computer engineering and life at the Academy. It was a great experience for all of us especially Zack Tanner who was already accepted to both Annapolis and West Point and yet to decide where to go. We felt lucky to have the opportunity to speak to a student who has already accomplished so much in such a short period of time.

The Ajax group is working hard learning the programing language and is excited, along with the rest of the Inventteam, with the languages implications for our website.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We have begun the data collection phase of the website. We hope to personalize a "My Garden Consultant" for individual users. The plant matching will also begin in the coming days. That's all for now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Group Photo

Today was InvenTeam group photo day. Everyone on the team got dressed up to take a bunch of pictures.

On the website, we're working on the Session Tracker and Session ID for the log-in. The registration is now working and just needs to be tweaked a little more. After that, we move on to the data collection phase of the site.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Website is going strong

We have completed the registration page's new design and are close to having it fully functional. Our log-in page is also correctly interfacing with the database as of a few days ago.

We hope to continue making steady progress on the website as we begin to work on the pages for users once they have logged in. These will include a personalized home page as well as the interface between the Garden Consultant and the website for automated data collection. Other gadgets will also be added to these pages.

We're all excited about what's to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More updates from Saratoga

Work on the Garden Consultant is progressing steadily. Our registration page is successfully restructured, and we're moving on to the log in / log out system. We recognize that any one user may have regions with very different conditions, so separate environmental zones can be managed. If a user specifies a plant that they wish to have, our system will match it with the zone best compatible with that plant's needs.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Registration

We are close to completing the registration page. We managed to salvage the page from what last year's team did, and are taking that code and putting it into our new setup. So the functionality is from last year, but with a new design. We hope to eventually have only the control panel change, while keeping the home page the same.

In other news, the end of the first quarter is approaching, and so the end of the DVT (Digital Visualization Theater) contest is approaching. The winner will be chosen on November 13th.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Images

We have new original images ready for the backgrounds, one for each season. Thanks to Jacklyn Rodge from Alabama for doing the images. They look really nice. I'm especially fond of the winter image, which will be appearing soon.

In other news, we are approaching our first meeting with Mr. Gallagher to review our current progress and set our goals for the next two weeks. This will be done as a diagnostic to fine tune our course.

Monday, November 3, 2008

DVT contest

Jeffrey Pawlick, a former inventeam member and currently a Notre Dame student, is hosting a contest to present a 3d cad file in the digital visualization theater. Students from Saratoga Springs high school are building CAD models that are hard to visualize with out a 3d model. whom ever has the best presentation will get a free round trip ticket to Notre Dame and present their project. Good Luck to all.

by Rory Korathu-Larson

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Data Interface

Our school just had a 15 minute lockdown drill, so now that that's over we can get back to work.

Yet more updates on the GC front.

Apart from our new website interface, we're also working on some exciting new data handling technology. Our data interpretation language, LabView, will be able to update without any human interaction. With this we hope to make the GC wireless. This will provide for greater ease of use and more accurate data gathering.

The HTML Team is still working hard on getting the website fully functional, and that should be done within a few weeks.

That's all for now!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First update of 2008

This year's Invent Team is, as many of you may know, continuing the Garden Consultant from last year. We've already started on many of our goals for this year.

What are these goals, you ask? Well, for starters we plan to streamline the website, making it easier to use and providing more functionality to it. The updated control panel is on the site, and will be functional shortly. We'll be adding Google Maps to the site for gardening store locations, and hopefully weather updates as well. Speaking of weather updates, we plan to have a weather advisory system in place as well, so that registered users will receive an E-Mail alert for frosts, droughts, high winds and other weather conditions in their area that may harm a garden. Google Reader will also be used to provide a visually appealing link to this blog. It is not yet on the site, but we have it working.

On the programing side of things, we have implemented object oriented Perl to allow for greater ease in creating uniform web pages. We will also be using Javascript to increase functionality and appearances of the site. For example, Java will detect what time of year it is, and change the background accordingly. It will also detect a users browser to warn about possible errors arising from using outdated versions of Internet Explorer.

There are many other things that are planned for this year but we have not yet started on. All in all, we hope to make the site easier to use and less cluttered. That's all for now!

P.S.-Posts will also start being every other day from now on to keep everyone updated.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mentor recognized for providing technology to soldiers

Today we have some fabulous news to share! Bruce Hodge has been our InvenTeam's mentor for the last two years, and his assistance has been crucial in our project. In addition, he is also President of Tech Valley Technologies, a Ballston Spa based company that produces realistic targets for the millitary. Capital News 9, a local news station recently posted a news article about the work that Tech Valley Technologies has done and what it means for the soldiiers in foreign countries.

Check it out:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saratoga InvenTeam is Back!!

It's been a while since the last post due to summer vacation. But never fear, the Saratoga InvenTeam is back for another year! And with a whole new team of students. At the end of last June, Saratoga said goodbye to its graduating seniors and welcomed in a new group of students willing to continue the work of their predecessors. This year, the team is planning to improve upon last year's progress with the database, devices, software, and web site. The team will also be applying for the grant for a second year.

Two weeks ago, we sent in our proposal for the Lemelson-MIT grant, so we should be hearing back shortly. We'll keep you updated. We recently finished working on a video presentation to send in to the grant board. The video recaps what the team did last year and explains our hopes for this year. We posted the video below. Enjoy!


Megan Watkins & Devan Tracy

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Reply to a Coment

A few days ago we received this comment to our recent post, "Heavy Metal: Amped on Wind Power". For those of you that have not read it here it is below.

"Any photographs of this event - it sounds awesome. Who were the organizers? I'd love to host one here in Ohio - OU Engineering Prof"

As I mentioned in that post I was entirely exhausted so I did not go in to to much detail or take the time to upload pictures but now I would be more than happy to. We had a great time and this was an awesome activity. I hope that this teachers students in Ohio and other up and coming engineers elsewhere can give this a try and get "Amped on Wind Power"!

The Goal:
Using only a limited supply of cardboard, poster poard, tape, clothes hangers, trash bags, metal rod, and plastic tubing (sorry if I am forgetting anything but you get the idea) we were to build a miniature wind turbine that when placed in front of a fan would reel in a rope hoisting the attached trash can in to the air. Over 30 teams competed and the fasted team to the top won.


If you are a Facebook member this is a video of my teams wind turbine in action. I do not have the actual file but as soon as I get my hands on it I will post it right here.


Here are a few pictures of my teams wind turbine being tested. They are not the best pictures but it is all I have.

I hope that these help you out and if you have any questions or need any additional information feel free to contact me at This truly is an awesome project. Have fun with it.

- Elliott

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Heavy Metal: Amped on Wind Power

Today was yet another fun packed day. We rolled out of bed, threw on our "Heavy Metal" emblazoned t-shirts and ran outside to catch the bus to the Boston Museum of Science. We did not know exactly what we were in for but only that we were being split in to groups and competing against each other in some sort of competition. It is getting late and I am getting tired so I will get right to the details.

30 teams. 30 garbage cans. 1 goal. Each team was to create their own wind turbine using nothing but cardboard, foam sheets, clothes hangers, PVC tubing, a metal rod, trash bags, rope, and of course.

My team went 6th being the first to represent Saratoga. We made it almost to the top and were the first team to lift off the ground. It was awesome and the people in my group could not have been more fun. Just a side not I did Saratoga the honor of writing the Garden Consultants web address on the turbine (nothing like free advertising, which I have also been doing on chalkboards all over campus). My team did well but not as well as Jeff's

Jeff and his team made one of the fastest and most successful turbines on the floor and even beet the professional Design Squad team. They came close to first but no cigar.

Also successful was Juliana with her wind sock turbine. Though completely unconventional and overall awkwardness her teams interesting contraption drew cheers from the crowd when it miraculously worked. To be perfectly honest I thought it would just break but it threw us all for a loop when it took hold of the wind.

We had a fun but long day and I can already tell that this is one of my weaker posts. We have all had a great time being here at MIT for the past few days and working on the Garden Consultant this year.

Don't worry. This is by no means my last post but it is far past my bed time so I will talk to you all tomorrow. Thanks for your support and good night.

- Elliott

Friday, June 27, 2008

Invention to Venture

This morning we had the honor of listening to Sharon C. Ballard, the president and CEO of EnableVentures, Inc. speak about entrepreneurship and the process of turning our ideas into money making products. Though the rest of the Saratoga Springs InvenTeam and I missed part one of the three part session we were lucky to be able to speak to Mrs. Ballard prior to the start of todays events where she caught us up on what we missed including how to make a great Elevator Pitch and in addition, Mrs. Ballard was the coach of our break out session which gave us even more time with this "Invention to Venture" expert.

We are only half way through todats "Invention to Venture" session and we can not wait to see what we will be up to after lunch. Be sure to check back in to the blog to see what ours and all other InvenTeam's are up to and we will be sure to post again soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

P.S. - The Garden Consultant is ONLINE!!!

P.S. - Great news! The Garden Consultant is now online and ready to use at Feel free to register for a new account and start letting the Garden Consultant take the guess work out of home gardening today!

Once again, thank you everyone so much for your help and support. We could not have done it without you.

The EurekaFest Presentation & Graduation

Today was the big day for the Saratoga InvenTeam. Not only did we all graduate this morning (other than Tom Hays, our resident Junior) but as soon as we crossed the stage and had our diploma we darted to the team Suburban to head down to MIT.

Today we managed to graduate at 10:00 and present at MIT at 2:00 making today the longest and most hectic day in our InvenTeam's history. Now that we are all back in our dorm rooms in the Baker House at MIT we can sit back and relax for a few hours before we wake up tomorrow morning and head back to the Stata Center to learn about marketing our invention.

So far it has been a blast and as I sit here typing up this blog post it is finally sinking in that I graduated from high school today. Even though classes ended two weeks ago many other InvenTeam members and I were still at school from 10 to 8 everyday working on the Garden Consultant and putting the final touches on our system.

It has been an exciting year and having my senior year marked as the year of the InvenTeam was just icing on the cake. Looking back I could not be more happy with the time I had at Saratoga Springs High School and working on this InvenTeam project.

We can not thank the Lemelson Foundation, MIT, Bruce Hodge, and everyone else who generously donated their time, resources, and efforts to help and support our team. Also, we can not thank our teacher, Mr. Gallagher, enough for the awesome teacher and mentor he has been not only this year but since my fellow InvenTeam members and I had him freshmen year. The friendships that have been made through this program will last for the rest of my life and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had through high school and during this past year.

Jeff Pawlick, a member of our InvenTeam and Saluditorian at Saratoga High gave a fantastic speech this morning about the importance of people in your life and thanking those that helped us allong the way to graduation and where we are today. It is programs like this and people like Mr. Gallagher that truly change lives and make a difference in the world. I am so lucky to have had both in one year.

In closing, I hope you take the time to watch this presentation. We poured our hearts and our time into this project and we could not be more happy with how it has come out. Once again, we thank you all for your help and support and I look forward to keeping in touch with our readers and future Saratoga InvenTeam's for years to come.

Thank you -

Elliott Poppel
Project Manager
Saratoga Springs InvenTeam 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunlight Sensors Housing

Shown above is the new housing for our sunlight sensors. This stake was created using Autodesk Inventor and as you can see, the photoresistor is docked in the top of the housing where it can easily measure sunlight. Multiple sensors like this shown will be strung together to allow a user to find out how much sunlight their growing environment receives.
Thank you Mr. Frauzenburg for donating your time and your supplies in to making the housing for the Garden Consultant sensors.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.

This weekend, friends and members of the InvenTeam participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The Saratoga InvenTeam team was able to raise over $400 dollars in donations. We had a great time hanging out, grilling, and walking around the track from 6:00 PM to 7:00 the next morning. Hopefully we have begun a new tradition, and look forward to creating an even bigger team next year. Thanks to everyone who participated or made a donation!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Relay for Life

We have been very busy over the past few weeks, trying to both fund raise for this weekend's Relay for Life, and work on our InvenTeam project. As Friday was rapidly approaching we became nervous about reaching our fundraising goal, and emailed our friends at MIT. Within the hour they had responded, making a very generous donation to our Relay for Life team. We are so grateful for all the donations we have received. This is a great cause that has effected many of us in one way or another, and its great to be able to give back to our community through this event.

If you are in the area and would like to stop by, the Saratoga Relay for Life will be taking place at East Side Rec in Saratoga Springs. The event will start off with the Survivor's Lap at 6:30 PM this Friday, and will continue through the night and into Saturday morning. We are so excited to take part in this event, and are so grateful to all those who have donated to the cause.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More Pictures from the Cornell Trip

Here are some great pictures courtesy of Craig Cramer from Cornell University. As you can see we had a great time and acomplished a ton while meeting with Mr. Mazza and Mr. Cramer. To read more about our trip check out our previous post.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Percolation Sensor Housing Finished

Above is an image of the housing we have designed for the Garden Consultant's sonar percolation sensor. Jason Franzenburg, a friend of our teacher Mr. Gallagher and Project Lead the Way teacher at West High School in Davenport, Iowa, was generous enough to print out the housing unit our team designed with his 3D printer. We thank his for his support of our project and for kindly printing this important part for our team on such short notice and on his last day of classes.

Thanks so much Mr.
Franzenburg for your support and have a great summer!

Meeting with Charles Mazza & Craig Cramer

This Wednesday we had the pleasure of meeting with Charles Mazza and Craig Cramer of Cornell University's College of Horticulture. Charles Mazza's work as author of "Site Assessment for Gardeners: a step-by-step workbook for better home landscapes and gardens" is the core of all gardening expertise behind the garden consultant so his approval of our automated techniques was vital to the validity of the Garden Consultant.

We could not be more happy with the outcome of our meeting where both Mazza and Cramer joined us in the excitement of our new invention and praised us for thinking outside the box and helping make their work more user friendly and simple to carry out.

It was also great to hear about the horticulture industry and listen to experts tell us more about home gardening and how our device could effect the industry and the hobby. As Charles Mazza said in our meeting, "Gardening is America's pastime... It's bigger than baseball!" We hope that the Garden Consultant will help people carry out their favorite hobby with ease like never before!

Thank your Mr. Mazza, Mr. Craig, and also Dr. Nina Bassuk (who was unable to attend the meeting but has helped us immensely thought out the year) for your help and your support of our InvenTeam! We had a blast meeting with you and are so thankful for the time you spent with us and the guidance you gave us at our meeting on Wednesday and through out our entire project.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Relay for Life

As a part of our InvenTeam's initiative to pay it forward and give back to our community, we have decided to form our own Relay for Life team. Relay for Life is one of the American Cancer Society's biggest annual fundraisers, bringing communities together across the U.S. to honor cancer survivors, remember those who have been lost to cancer, and raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer. The Saratoga Relay will take place on June 6th and 7th.

For more information, or to help us meet our fundraising goal, please check out our Relay team's website. This page will keep you updated on our team's progress in the weeks leading up to Relay. We greatly appreciate any donations made to help us toward our team fundraising goal of $400.



Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Night Meeting

Tonight, with help from Bruce Hodge, we created an Order of Operations diagram to go over all elements of the Garden Consultants inner workings. This diagrams serves as an outline for exactly what the Garden Consultant programming needs to do in order to function properly. We are using it to help tie together loose ends as we get closer to the completion of our project. We thought you might like to check out what were up to and get a better feel for what you will be able to do once the Garden Consultant is online.

Enjoy. - Elliott

Coming to a Close

Hi Everyone -

Sorry it has been so long since our last post but we have been very busy as the school year and our grant period come to an end. It is so cool seeing everything come together and come to an end. AP exams are done on Thursday, final projects are being assigned in English, and Prom is on Saturday. Everyday it seems like there is a new Graduation Party invitation waiting for me on Facebook and it is just amazing to think that in just a few weeks we are done with high school. Everyone is finalizing their college plans (Congratulations on RPI Steve!) and signing up for housing and orientations. This could not be a more exciting part of our lives as we get ready for the awesome experiences and opportunities that await us and I haven't got started on what our InvenTeam is up to!

The past few Monday's we have been meeting with Bruce Hodge working to tie together our programs and get our system working perfectly before we release it to the public. Tonight we have another meeting and hopefully we will leave school with the whole system up and running or close to it. In addition to work on our programs we have also acquired a 2000 plant database from the USDA which makes the Garden Consultant even more useful and powerful as a gardening tool. Everything is going great and wrapping up well in terms of the Garden Consultant and we could not be more pleased. Soon I will be posting our preliminary version our teams Summary Report and we can't wait for you all to check it out.

In the next few weeks as we come to a close there will be tons of news and announcements as to what we are up to. Be sure to keep checking up on our progress. We can't wait to show you the Garden Consultant soon!

- Elliott

Friday, April 25, 2008

In the News: InvenTeam in the Saratogian

After our presentation for the Board of Education yesterday Saratogian writer Neil Kirby wrote an article about the Garden Consultant and our InvenTeam which was featured in todays paper. Check it out online here or read the article below.

Students lead the way on plants
Problem-solving group suggests new methods for better gardening
By NEIL KIRBY, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Project Lead the Way students may have found a more efficient way to get plants in your garden to thrive through an invention they call the Garden Consultant, which will determine which plants or crops are best suited to a given environment.

Project Lead the Way, which allows students to take engineering courses for college credit while still in high school, resulted in the receipt of a $10,000 invention grant from Lemelson-MIT and the formation of an InvenTeam in Saratoga Springs High School. InvenTeam students presented the results of the invention grant to the Board of Education on Thursday.

Students and teachers involved with the InvenTeam were asked to identify a problem that they would then research and try to solve by the development and testing of a prototype.

Technology teacher Michael Gallagher, who served as coordinator and mentor of the InvenTeam, noticed last year that while some types of plants seemed to thrive in his garden, others would unexpectedly die. This observation led to the idea of a Garden Consultant Web site, where gardeners could plug in information on their location and receive back a list of plants that should thrive in the given soil and rainfall conditions.

“Ours was the first of its kind,” InvenTeam member Julianna Wakeman said.

“It’s environmentally friendly,” said Elliott Poppel, InvenTeam member and project coordinator. “Instead of changing the environment to suit the plants, you’re changing the plants to suit the environment.”

Poppel noted that the Garden Consultant should result in reduced use of chemical fertilizers.
In previous years, students taking Engineering Design and Development, the capstone course of Project Lead the Way, were expected to develop individual projects. This year, as part of the InvenTeam, they were asked to collaborate.

“The course involves using what you’ve learned and developing something original,” InvenTeam member Jeffrey Pawlick said.

The InvenTeam is gearing up to present its findings to the MIT grantors in June. The Garden Consultant should be available to the public within the next two weeks, when the finishing touching can be put on the Web site. For more information, visit the InvenTeam’s blog at

Saratoga Springs was one of only 25 school to begin the formation of Project Lead the Way in 2000.

“We plan on doing unique projects for weeks and years to come,” Poppel said.

InvenTeam presents to Board of Education

Last night our InvenTeam gave a presentation for the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education during their meeting. Our presentation not only discussed the Garden Consultant but also talked about the Project Lead the Way Program at our school and how through the school districts support of engineering education awesome opportunity's have been made available to us.

Though we do not have a video of the presentation (the battery died) we will be re-recording the presentation over the next week so it will be online and available for all to see. Also, look for us in the Saratogian as a reporter interviewed a few InvenTeam members after lasts nights presentation.

Also, this Monday we will be once again meeting with Bruce Hodge to help integrate all the programs we have written and have the Garden Consultant open for user access. We hope to have our systems online and accessible in the coming weeks.

Check back often for the latest on the InvenTeam and the Garden Consultant. We can't wait for you to try out our working prototype soon!

- Elliott

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presentation this Thursday

Hello All -

I hope everyone had a great spring break! Members of the InvenTeam did not get much of a chance to ease back into school work though. This week we started off with staying after school to work on programing and a new presentation from 2:30 to 9:00 which we followed up with practicing our presentation today in class for Project Lead the Way representatives as well as members of The Council (a partnership for excellence in agriculture and education) and CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) such as Mr. Brad Schloesser.

This Thursday we will be presenting our work as Project Lead the Way students and a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam at a Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education meeting. We are the first student group ever to present during a meeting and we could not be more excited for this oppertunity to educate the community and the school board on what we are doing and thank them for the support of the programs which have allowed us the opportunity's to be where we are as students and an engineering program today.

This presentation and meeting are open to the public and start at 7:30 PM in the Teaching Auditorium at the High School. We hope you can make it but if not, we will be taping the presentation to be put up on our blog. Thanks for your support and see you then.

- Elliott

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Next Generation of Inventors

Today after school a few Saratoga Springs Project Lead the Way students, including four InvenTeam members, visited Maple Avenue Middle School to talk to some of next year's Freshmen about their first year at high school and the Project Lead the Way program. Invitations went out to the best students the middle school's Technology Education Department had to offer. These bright eighth graders joined us after school for a brief introduction to the five Project Lead the Way courses which we followed up with pizza and a Nintendo Wii Tennis Tournament. We had a great time and by the end of our "party" had every student there signed up for Introduction to Engineering Design (our freshmen level class). We can't wait to see what awesome inventions these future engineers are going to whip out during their time at Saratoga Springs High School.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Inventeam Takes The Stage

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday two of our InvenTeam members, Duncan Boehle and Stephen Rancour, will be participating in the school musical of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Duncan is playing the part of Ching Ho and Stephen will be on the running crew. They have been rehearsing the play since January.

Our members' participation in so many creative activities obviously renders the stereotype of pocket-protector-clad engineers as false. Singing, dancing, and designing and creating set have been integral parts of the high school experience, and nothing is better than a well-rounded engineer.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Compliment from Merton Flemmings

After posting our latest video online we have received quite a bit of praise and congratulations on our efforts to collaborate with the Great River InvenTeam. Members of the Lemelson-MIT Program as well as other engineering professionals have complemented the work we have done in helping Great River with the Windamajig. Recently we received this compliment from Merton Flemmings. With his permission we are happy to post this to our blog.

"I am writing specifically to compliment you on the excellent video you and your team put together for the Great River School. I know how appreciative Great River School is. You are great extended-team players!"
- Merton Flemmings (Professor & Faculty Director for the Lemelson-MIT Program)

Thank you Mr. Flemmings and everyone else for your support of our InvenTeam. Happy Easter!

- Elliott

Monday, March 17, 2008

Offering a Helping Hand: Great River School's "Windamajig" Project

Recently, Leigh Estabrooks approached our team with a new challenge: to offer some guidance to another school whose project had some similar research topics as ours. Specifically, their project dealt with using cheap anemometers to record windspeeds at various altitudes. Our recent work with home-made anemometers and data acquisition may prove to be very useful for them. Some of us have taken the past week or two to come up with a detailed possible solution to the Great River School's problem statement (as well as their issue of weather balloons tilting over), and we strongly hope that we have been able to contribute to the future success of their project, the Windamajig.

We are extremely fortunate to have the extra resources available in order to help our fellow teams, and we would be very honored to do so again in the future, just as we hope to make an impact on the younger generations of our own school.

This is the video of our presentation to their team, outlining the concepts that we have come up with to address their problem. For a full screen version of the video click here.

Good luck Great River and we look forward to talking to you more about the Windamajig soon.

- Duncan

Friday, March 14, 2008


Hi, InvenTeam,

I wanted to let you know that I am trying to catch up with all the posts you have made since last Fall, as well as look at the videos you created. It might take me a little time to digest all you have done. I'm quite pleased and honored that you have chosen "Site Assessment for Gardeners: a step-by-step workbook for better gardens and landscapes" as your prototype for InvenTeam work.

While there is much to digest, I want to follow the measurement of soil characteristics as a start. Back in December, for instance, Tim located a link on soil compaction from the University of Minnesota. It was good reading and informative. I have to always question farm related pieces like this to assess its applicability to a home garden and landscape. Both farms and home properties have compaction issues, but the emphasis on heavy tractors on large acreages of farm land growing shallow rooted food crops may pose slightly different concerns than planting a deep-rooted tree in a home landscape that has been compacted. Maybe there is more similarity than I am crediting.

Related to that was something that was on one of the videos, explaining how soil types would be linked to appropriate plants for the garden. I need to understand more about that, since it is key to successful site assessment. However, my question would be that soil survey maps were developed for farmland (there are those farm comparisons again). What John Doe experiences with his new suburban home that was once farmland or the gardener in downtown Troy, whose house was built in 1910, is very different from what the soil survey map shows for Farmer Gray. Home gardens and landscapes are built mostly on disturbed soils (partly from the construction and partly from practices such as bringing in soil fill or amending the soil over the years so that it has a different profile from the soil survey map on record.

Those are my initial thoughts. Keep up the good work. What you are doing is so fascinating and creative. I'm quite pleased.

Charlie Mazza

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stuffing Easter Eggs for Double H

Today after school five InvenTeam members and Mr. Gallagher got together to stuff Easter eggs for the Double H Hole in the Woods Ranch. This was our first team outing to complete our plans for community service. We had a great time!

Double H is a local camp that provides activities year-round for children dealing with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It is a wonderful organization with a wonderful cause, and we look forward to working with them again.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Our Latest Video: A journey throught the engineering design and development flow chart.

Hello Everyone,

Today we finished up editing out latest video. This movie is a narrated Power Point which we presented to various members of the engineering community on March 28th at RPI after the Lemelson-RPI Student Prize Ceremony. This presentation uses the Engineering Design and Development flow chart to describe the invention process and how we applied the necessary steps to creating the Garden Consultant.

As mentioned in the video we will soon be making another short video which will dive deeper into the technology the Garden Consultant uses such as Perl, LabVIEW, MySQL, and the various sensors we have incorporated into the Garden Consultant System.

Feel free to watch this video above directly from this post or check out this video as well as our other films down at the bottom of the page with InvenTeamTV.

Thanks and enjoy,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Always Looking Forward...

As we are hearing from colleges and planning the next phase of our lives, we want to make sure that we are leaving our project in good hands for the years to come. We have already begun working with some Juniors currently taking Computer Integrated Manufacturing, familiarizing them with our project plans. In an effort to encourage younger students to the path of Engineering and innovation, we are also reaching out to eighth graders. Next Thursday a bunch of the InvenTeam members and some Project Lead the Way teachers are going over to the Middle School to host a pizza and Wii party for a select group of eighth grade technology students. Hopefully they'll learn a little bit about PLTW and all the fun we have and be encouraged to start Project Lead the Way next year.

I can't wait!


A Post to the Mega-Blog: Can innovation be taught?

Our InvenTeam was recently asked to read an article and post our comments to a question posed by the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Program. They asked, "Can innovation be taught?"

Head on over to the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam blog to check out our teams response as well as what other teams had to say.

Paying it Forward

Over the course of our project, our InvenTeam has been extremely fortunate to receive help and advice from professionals in many fields. These individuals have generously donated their time and expertise to benefit our project. The Garden Consultant would not nearly be what it is today without their help. Local inventor Bruce Hodge, of Tech Valley Technologies, spends nearly every Monday night with us at school until around nine at night. We are especially appreciative of his time and effort.

When we attended the presentation of the Lemelson-Rensselaer Prize Mrs. Dorothy Lemelson, wife of the late Jerome Lemelson, spoke of her philanthropic goals for the Lemelson Foundation. When the foundation was created, Mr. Lemelson's goal was to give back to the world by helping inventors. Through his and his wife's work, the Lemelson Foundation has fostered the inventive spirit by providing funds and support for inventors of all ages. We are so fortunate to be a part of this initiative, and wish to continue this trend of giving back what we have received.

In this light, we have decided that it is only right to give back. In a new team initiative, all members of the SSHS InvenTeam will participate in twice as many hours of community service as they have received in help from outside individuals. We are so excited to take part in these new opportunities, and so thankful for the help we have received so far!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Collaborating with the Great River InvenTeam

In our recent progress report review Mrs. Estabrooks noted some overlap in our work and the Great River, Minnesota Windamajig project. We have contacted them and are very excited to work with their team. Their advisor, Mr. Michael Flood, replied "You're an impressive team - we appreciate the invite!"

We have a great group of Saratoga's Engineering students that have begun working with Great River. We expect to have a presentation for them out by early next week. Stay tuned for more details!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

InvenTeamTV: Videos back online

Hey Everyone -

If you have not already noticed our newest add-on, scroll on down to the bottom of the page and check out InvenTeamTV brought to you by This cool new widget gives us an easily accessible and most importantly, a cool looking way to show off out teams latest videos.

We will soon be recording our latest presentation (which was given recently at RPI) and putting that up online for you all to check out as well.

We are sorry that we were unable to host our videos for a while. We were asked by representatives from the InvenTeam Program to take down the videos upon questions of image copyright infringement but we have asked permission of all images sources and all videos are ready to go back online.

Enjoy the videos, hopefully they can help you better understand the mission of our InvenTeam and the Garden Consultant, and thanks for your help and support.

- Elliott

Monday, March 3, 2008

InvenTeam Rocks!

For those of you who haven't already heard Brother Aside won Sunday nights Battle of the Bands at Northern Lights. InvenTeam members Jeff Pawlick (Keyboard and Electric Violin) and Mike Bogardus (Bass Guitar) played an awesome show helping their band to victory. They now get to open for a natioanly signed band of their choice in Chicago later this year and move on to the next round in the Battle of the Bands.

It was an awesome concert and the group of us that went down for the show had a great time. Obviously not only are our InvenTeam members smart students but they are also members of bands, sports teams, clubs, and tons of other activities. Nothing says well rounded like an engineer in a rock band.

Intro to Blogger Video: A Quick Guide to Posting and Commenting

For those of you that have been invited or wish to be invited, here is a quick tutorial on how to create posts and comment to our blog. This video explains the basics of Blogger and will have you posting in no time.

If you would like a "large screen" version feel free to e-mail me at and I would be happy to get back to you. Also, if you are having trouble watching this on an Apple Computer I have a version to help with that issue too.

Thanks and Enjoy -


Friday, February 29, 2008

Our Presentation and The Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize

Last Thursday our InvenTeam packed up early and left school for Troy, NY to check out the Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize Ceremony. We got to watch Dorothy Lemelson, chair of the Lemelson Foundation, and Alan Cramb, dean of the School of Engineering, award Martin Schubert the $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize for his work in creating the first ever polarized LED. Not only did we get to hear about all of the really cool inventions all four finalists made but we also met various engineering professional attending the ceremony. We even got to meet Mrs. Lemelson herself and thank her for the awesome oppertunity her and her late husband made available to us.

After the ceremony we made our way to one of the presentation classrooms at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies where we presented our progress so far and the overall Garden Consultant concept to some of the highest ranking engineering professionals in the world. We were joined by Merton Flemings (Lemelson-MIT Faculty Director), Phil Weilerstein (Executive Director of the NCIIA), Burt Swersey (RPI Professor), Lester Rubenfeld (Director for the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education at RPI), Brian Schulkin (Winner of the 2007 Lemelson-RPI Student Prize), and of course, Leigh Estabrooks (InvenTeams Grant Officer) .

We had a great time presenting the work we had done and our plans for the Garden Consultant and getting real input from such high ranking and intelligent members of the engineering community. Just being at RPI was an awesome experience. The electricity that could be felt throughout campus is amazing and I know I personally could not be more excited for college next year.

In the very near future we will be posting the presentation we gave at RPI online in video form. We also have received permission to re-post our videos online so soon all of our presentation and informational videos will be online for all to see.

Thanks so much RPI for having us for the ceremony and our presentation and thanks all who attended and everyone from the Lemelson Foundation for their support of our InvenTeam and the InvenTeam Grant Program.

Thanks -

Elliott Poppel

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lemelson-RPI Student Prize

On February 28th our InvenTeam has been asked to join in the exciting festivities of the awarding of the Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize 2008. This prestigious award is granted to "a Rensselaer senior or graduate student who has created or improved a product or process, applied a technology in a new way, or otherwise demonstrated remarkable inventiveness."

Not only are we being given the oppertunity to be part of this awesome award ceremony but afterwards we are meeting with Brian Schulkin, the 2007 winner of the Lemelson-RPI Student Prize.

Schulkin created hand held T-Ray device which is revolutionary in the field of sensing and imaging. His revolutionary device is capable of identifying breaks in space shuttle foam and counterfeit currency and fits in easily in a regular briefcase.

Schulkin also sat on the board for the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program which selected which high schools would be granted the $10,000 award. We have heard that he personally looked over our proposal and we can not wait to talk to him about it.

For more information on the Lemelson-RPI Student Prize visit the links above and to watch the presentation live follow this link at 2:00 PM on the 28th.

- Elliott

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sonar Range Finder

Today, Steve and I put together a sonar range finder. The device is just a small black cylinder, about a half inch in diameter and a half inch tall with three wires sticking off of it.

First, I had to solder the wires onto the device. I'm not very experienced with a soldering iron and I didn't want to set the fire alarm off, so this put a little pressure on me, but I pulled it off!

Then, I wired it to our SensorDAQ and made a quick program in LabVIEW. The sonar sensor has an output that displays the measured distance as a multiple of 127 µS (micro-seconds). For example, 10 inches would produce a pulse of 1.27 mS (mili-seconds) or 1270 µS.

Finally, we tested to make sure the sensor would read water. We filled a coffee can with water and held the sensor above the can, noting its reading before and after we filled the can. And it worked!

Part of the Lemelson-InvenTeam Initiative is finding EUREKA! moments. Plugging a couple wires in, clicking "run" on a computer screen, and having a value change as I wave my hand is, in my opinion, a EUREKA! moment.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Putting Together the Software Pieces

The last couple of weeks have been exciting for our team! The database group successfully uploaded a database of 49 plants to the web server using MySQL. The database uses 18 specific fields for each plant, so that we can match plants as closely as possible with soil conditions. Additionally, students working working on Perl and HTML programming successfully created a web page that searches the database for plant-specific information, and will soon be able to add information to the database. They also created a basic interface for the web page that customers would see when they upload data or search the website. This dynamic interaction between Perl and MySQL is the hallmark of what industry calls a Web-Database Application. As we continue to build parts of the software, we enjoy fulfilling the challenges of linking the parts together.
-Jeff Pawlick

Monday, February 4, 2008

Attention: Videos No Longer On-Line

Hello All -

I appologise for the inconveniance but the informational and educational videos we have made have been temporarily taken off-line.

We are now learning the ins and outs of copyright laws and by the request of Melissa Makofske, communications director for the Lemelson-MIT Program, we are taking our videos off-line until we recieve permission from the owners of all images we used in our presentations.

We have begun contacting the owners of images we have used and all have been more than ok with our use of them. This is just antoher learning experience complements of the Lemelson-MIT Program and in the end, our team will be better off for this experience.

For more information, contact us at Thank you all for your support and we are sorry for any inconveniance this may cause you.

Sincerely -

Elliott Poppel
Project Manager
Saratoga Springs HS InvenTeam

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Contributors to the "Site Assessment for Gardeners" Workbook Lend a Helping Hand

About a week ago I sent out e-mails to various contributors to the "Site Assessment for Gardeners" Workbook, asking if they wouldn't mind providing suggestions to improve our digital modifications to the manual site tests described in the workbook. I am pleased to say that I am currently in contact with four of the contributors, and they have all provided invaluable advice on many aspects of our project. Cornell University Professors Dr. Nina Bassuk and Dr. Tammo Steenhuis, Craig Cramer, and retired Cornell University Professor and author of the "Site Assessment for Gardeners" Workbook Charlie Mazza have all generously agreed to look over our test modifications and provide their own advice on how to improve these tests. We are very excited to work with these individuals in the future, and priveleged to hear their advice.

At his request we have added Charlie Mazza to our blog, and are in the process of creating an instructional video detailing how to take advantage of all the blog has to offer. We look forward to his future posts and advice!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Blog Features

Over the past few days you may have noticed some serious changes and upgrades to our blog. Along with new videos being posted we have also now paid tribute to our sponsors and added a new poll feature.

Yeah, I know the poll is kind of lame. Just give it a whirl. It will be cool to see what the results will be.

Otherwise, enjoy checking out the cool new stuff we have added and stay tuned for more to come.

- Elliott

Happy Birthday Mr. Gallagher!!!

Today in class, with help from Mr. Gallaghers wonderful fiancée Miss Holmes, we threw Mr. Gallagher the greatest birthday party ever. The room was decorated with balloon, streamers, and blown up pictures of Mr. Gallagher in middle school all over the room. It could not have been any more gaudy and obnoxious if we tried.

Happy Birthday Mr. Gallagher! Thank you so much for being the dedicated and enthusiastic teacher you are. Not only would our InvenTeam not be what it is today with out you but I know many students in this class as well as myself credit you for helping make us the people we are today. Thank you so much for everything you do for us. Happy birthday and many more!

Oh, and FYI, Juliana and I are coming back next year and doing the same thing!

Happy Birthday -

Elliott and The Team

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Automating the Garden Consultant Video


When we released our Information/Overview Video we also sent an e-mail to various members of the Cornell Horticulture Department. Up until very recently we had not told them that their packet, "Site Assessment for Gardeners", was the basis for our entire project.

Within twenty-four hours we began receiving enthusiastic responses from various gardening experts. We received numerous questions as to what our plan was and in response we made this video to explain our basic plan to modify and automate the Cornell packet.

We could not be any more excited to have the leading Horticulture experts from Cornell on board and can not wait for their responses to the solutions and adaptations we have posed.

Without the help from people, organizations, and companies we would not be where we are today. Within the next few weeks we will have a basic working model of the Garden Consultant on-line and accessible for you all to test out. I could not be any more excited, I hope you all are too.

- Elliott

Monday, January 28, 2008

Informational/Overview Video



Above is the Saratoga Springs HS InvenTeams Informational/Overview Video. This video was made to explain our goals to the many people and organizations that are helping us as well as those whose help we would like to enlist.

A major part of this video is an explanation of the cornerstone of our project the Cornell "Site Assessment for Gardening" Workbook. As you read in Juliana's previous post we have sent out this video to horticulture experts at Cornell and we have begun recieving feedback from them. We are in the process now of creating a powerpoint presentation that will dive deeper into expalining our plans for automating the Cornell Workbook.

This is a very exciting time as we are getting closer and closer to a working prototype. As of now we have sucesffuly built a basic working model which runs on user inputed data and we could not be more excited. Obviouly great things are going on and more great things are to come. I hope you enjoy the video and we can not wait to show you an on-line working prototype in the near future.

Thanks -


Happy Birthday LEGO!

I think it is safe to say that at one point in every engineers life he or she plays with Legos. Legos are arguably the greatest toy ever invented and today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Lego brick. In celebration Google got a little creative with their logo, Gizmodo made a really sweet timetable, and even Lego is celebrating with a commemorative Town Plan set based on one of their first sets.

Legos were a major part of my childhood as well as almost everyone elses childhood I can think of. Happy Birthday Lego, and many more!

- Elliott

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cornell University Professor Nina Bassuk Becomes Involved

Earlier this week I contacted some of the contributors to the Site Assessment for Gardeners Workbook. This is one of the many valuable resources offered by Cornell University that has been very useful to our project. It outlines exactly what a gardener would need to discern about their gardening site in order to properly assess which plants to grow there. In our case, it has shown us exactly what variables our device will need to measure. As we are working on automating modifications to the manual site tests described in the Site Assessment for Gardeners Workbook, we thought it would be a good idea to make sure our modifications were accurate replications of the original tests, and who better to ask than the authors themselves. Cornell University Professor Nina Bassuk has generously offered to evaluate our modifications and provide suggestions on how to make them more accurate or appropriate to our project. We greatly appreciate Professor Bassuk's support, and cannot wait to work with her!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Help from Vernier

One revolutionary component of the Garden Consultant is the physical device that will acquire data from the soil. Unfortunately, this means we need a physical device to acquire data. In our research, we have found several possibilities for DAQs (Data AcQuisition devices).

Mr. Tom White generously donated a Vernier SensorDAQ to help us along. After hearing about our project, Mr. David Vernier donated several sensors including a soil moisture sensor and a temperature probe. These senors were designed for the SensorDAQ and are automatically detected and set up for easy use.

However, our project requires sensors that Vernier doesn't offer. I built a sunlight sensor using a photo-resistor, but couldn't connect it to our SensorDAQ because we were lacking the "screw terminal connector". After a quick email to Mr. Vernier, the connector was in the mail and the project was able to continue.

At this stage in the project, we are realizing that our device will not be composed of simple, compatible pieces of hardware. In order to create a truly innovative device, we will need both creativity in our group and support from our sponsors. Thank you, Mr. Vernier, for your generosity and quick response.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eco-Friendly Thinking from Saratoga Springs

A few days ago Leigh Estabrooks and other people from Lemelson-MIT asked all of the 2007-2008 InvenTeams to answer a few questions regarding our views on the environment and the future of engineering. A few other team members and I had a brief chat about the questions proposed and submitted our response to the blog. With the current state of the environment and the changes that we are seeing in the environment world-wide it is important that we as future engineers consider the effects we have on the environment and work to make the world a better place. Here is what we had to say.

- Elliott

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Server Hosting by Spa.Net

The Saratoga Springs HS InvenTeam would like to thank local internet provider Spa.Net for hosting the server we are using (which was donated by Bruce Hodge). After the recent donation we had to find a service provider to host the server. Thanks to generosity of Spa.Net we will have our server and the Garden Consultant up and running in no time.

Thank you so much for your help and support and we look forward to showing you the cool work we are doing in the near future. Our work would not be possible without you.

Thanks -
Elliott Poppel & The SSHS InvenTeam

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Programming Progress & The Great Inventor

The image on the left is from an article in Times Union "People who make a difference" That's Bruce all right!!! He was a feature recipient receiving this dignified distinction for his innovative work with his targeting systems as well as holding several patents. He has helped immensely giving of his time and bringing a vast knowledge and passion for creativity.

Bruce Hodge met with us again this last Monday. He taught us to use a program called NoteTab. This program gives us the ability of writing and testing HTML, CSS, and Perl scripts. This program will make it easier for creating our website for our project. He also worked with Jeff to better understand how MySQL works. Jeff has now started to create our database of plants.

We have been making some real visible progress with the Garden Consultant and having a genius like Bruce Hodge only a phone call away to answer our programming questions this project could not be going any better.

Bruce, thanks so much for your time and we can't wait to have you in class again.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Central Desktop: Collaboration at its Best!

For the past month or so the Saratoga Springs HS InvenTeam has been making use of a web-based collaboration, communication, and file-sharing utility called Central Desktop. I found this program when my G-Mail account happened to have a news feed about it across the top of my inbox. We started using it immediately as an easier and more organized way of sharing files and since then we have begun taking advantage of many of its other features, especially now that we have been donated a full access Corporate Central Desktop Account where we can now host web-meetings, manage tasks, send out automatic reminders, and store all our documents among other things. This is an amazing tool and I can not express how awesome it is to have all the great tools that Central Desktop offers at our InvenTeams disposal.

A special thank you to Isaac Garcia, CEO and Co-Founder of Central Desktop, for donating to us this account and enabling us to use his awesome program. Central Desktop is by far the coolest tool the web has to offer and it has become the cornerstone of our InvenTeam. I can not thank Mr. Garcia and all of you at Central Desktop enough for you help and your work. Not only is this a huge asset to our work now, but I personally will be using Central Desktop in college and in my professional life.

Thanks for all your help -

MySQL: To create web databases

This weekend, my social life has been great: I have spent nearly all my time with a friend named MySQL, who happens to be a database programming application. But on the serious side, SQL is an extremely powerful language for database creation. It is exciting to use, since as you learn more about it, the possibilities grow exponentially.

Initially, I had trouble completing the software installation on my own. I called Bruce Hodge and he helped me get everything up and running. Once the the set-up was complete he helped me program in the database, it was really cool. He helped me input data and write some analytics stuff from 9:30-11:30 on a Friday night, which is awesome.

Anyway, MySQL is Fun with a capital F. Plus, we have now breached into the mysterious realm of online databasing. There is no turning back - I'm addicted.

- Jeff P

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Moving Forward & New Group Leaders

With us entering into a fresh New Year our team has decided to try some fresh new management. The way our InvenTeam has been set up is that one Project Manager oversees three Group Leaders who oversee the group members in their task specific groups. This system allows for easy communication and teamwork between people with similar tasks as well as easy flow of communication and information between the three groups.

Jeff Pawlick, Juliana Wakeman, and Duncan Boehle have done an awesome job keeping their groups on task during the research phase of our project but new leaders Rob Colpoys, Tim Vanasdale, and Steve Rancour are going to take a whack at being Group Leaders for the next few months.

Rob will be taking over Group #1 which will focus on Database and Information. This group will be using mySQL and Excel to create a plant database for use in the Garden Consultant.

Tim will be heading up Group #2 which will focus on Sensor Development and Automation. This group will identify and utilize sensors and existing programs which will automate the user-entry of personal garden information into the Garden Consultant.

Steve will be in charge of Group #3 which will focus on Application Programming. This group is in charge of the creation of a working web-site which in essence will be the Garden Consultant. Using the practices Bruce Hodge has introduced to us (including Perl, HTML, Apache, PHP...) they will be heading up the creation of a web-site which will take user inputted data and cross check it against a our Database to match the perfect plants to a users environment.

We now have a solid plan as to how we will very soon be bringing our prototype Garden Consultant to life. It will be fun and exciting seeing our hard work and research finally paying off as we watch our invention start to grow into a final product.

Within the next week I will be posting a description of exactly how the Garden Consultant will work and our plans for the invention. This is an exciting time for the SSHS InvenTeam and we can not wait to have our fully functioning Garden Consultant available on-line for you all to try.

Keep checking in on our blog and I look forward to posting good news to you soon.

- Elliott

Thanks PLTW! : SSHS InvenTeam Polos

When we arrived back from our Holiday Break yesterday we found an awesome gift sitting in our class room.

Thank you Mr. Richard Blais and everyone at PLTW for your generous donation of these team shirts as well as your support of our InvenTeam. The polo shirts you donated to our team look great and we cannot wait to proudly sport them at MIT this June as well as at the RPI-Lemelson Award Ceremony next month. The shirts are awesome and we could not thank you and everyone at Project Lead the Way enough for your donation.
Thanks - Elliott

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pictures: The Team in its Natural Habitat.

If you go the InvenTeams Web-Site and follow the links to the pictures page you can check out some awesome pictures Leigh Estabrooks took of our team at work during her first visit. Just something cool you might want to check out.
- Elliott

Soil Drainage

The soil drainage group is searching for new ways to measure soil drainage that we could incorporate into our project. Soil drainage is measured by variety of test presented in the gardening packet. We plan to include this as a automated process in our device. With the use of labview and moister detectors we can make the test more accurate and easier.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Search Results

Though the image is a little hard to see what you are looking at is Google Search results for "InvenTeam". Out of 3,050 results the Saratoga Springs HS InvenTeam Blog ranks number two, only behind the official InvenTeam web-site. Obviously we are drawing quite a bit of attention in the InvenTeams Universe and as we get closer to EurekaFest! and people start searching to find out whats going on, its pretty cool to know that were #1.

This is a pretty cool way to start off the New Year. I hope everyone had a great holiday break and for those of you not on the InvenTeam, check back soon as we unveil the new direction of the Garden Consultant as well as changes in management.

- Elliott